Posts Tagged ‘windows’

Vista “User Account Control”

28 December 2007 – 16:37 CDT

As a follow up to the previous post, I had my first direct experience with UAC in Vista yesterday. While I own a Macbook, I’m not a huge Apple fan boy. However, the Apple ad doesn’t even come close. What a royal PITA. It is obviously turned on by default and I seriously cannot see any point except to do two things: shift the blame for the OS’s insecurity to the user (ie “the user clicked “Ok” so they must really understand what they’re doing and anything afterwards is on them!”) and just to be annoying.

Unfortunately, UAC doesn’t stop at being merely annoying. It actively gets in the way. I accidentally unzipped a driver package from dell onto the desktop. I couldn’t delete most of the files until I turned off UAC. I created the files, and they’re in a directory owned by me. And I’m a system Administrator. But still after clicking through 3 or 4 prompts, I get “Permission denied”. The UAC setting is not in the screen that tells you UAC is turned on and “protecting” you, another problem. I guess they don’t want you to find it. Once you turn it off, you get a nagging little bubble every few minutes that tells you your computer is insecure. Well, no frickin’ duh.

The biggest problem I see with UAC is the one that most techs I’ve read and heard say – it asks too many questions. Instead of asking about only the really important things, it asks more than once about mundane things. I’m a tech and I don’t feel like reading every stupid dialog that comes up and determining the correct answer. How is the average user supposed to cope with this?

I think part of the problem is that because Windows is slow and bloated, too many things run in kernel space. Meaning that the process gets an artificial speed increase in exchange for the security normally provided by running in userspace. So Vista tries to compensate by asking inane questions about if you really really want to do something. It reminds me of the priv separation nightmare that I experienced with Windows 2000. Non-priv users could not burn CDs. Even using the special “Run As…” wasn’t enough – you could get a little bit further but for some reason of the forked processes wasn’t inheriting the elevated privileges, so no CD for you. Unless you log out and log back in as an administrative-level user.

Several companies, including Dell, have felt the Vista backlash from customers and are allowing them in some cases to upgrade from to XP. However, my personal recommendation for anyone buying new systems, especially laptops, is to go Mac, especially if your preferred system vendor refuses to give you the option of XP or wants to charge some extra fee for it. If you’re savvy enough, at least you have the option to dump Vista and run Linux on a PC. But for most folks, save yourself the trouble and hassle of Vista. In general, OS X just works. I’m planning to upgrade this macbook to Leopard sometime within the next two weeks, so we’ll see how that goes.

Vista “Server Execution Failed” message

28 December 2007 – 11:39 CDT

I re-installed Vista (bleh) on my sister’s Inspiron 1501. Apparently Vista sucks. The WLAN card was being flaky, and the dell drivers CD shipped with the system is useless – the autorun app which is the driver manager installer app crashes. Spent more than an hour on the phone with dell last night trying to explain the problem. Finally found a solution to the problems with the WLAN card:

there is now a simple fix for Vista Home users, as well, for the “server execution error” and red “x” over the wireless networking icon.

Simply run a command prompt as an administrator (right-click on it and click “Open as Administrator”) then enter the following command line:

net localgroup “Administrators” “NT Authority\Local Service” /add

That should do it. We should thank God for the each other because Microsoft sure has no F-ing idea what they are doing yet.


Encrypted files

28 April 2007 – 12:58 CDT

Here’s a hint: if you’re going to use the windows “encrypt” on your files, and then later try to copy them by reading the NTFS partition in linux, don’t delete the original files (or wipe the original disk) until you’ve removed the encryption — because the files won’t copy.

The NTFS driver for linux doesn’t know what to do with the encrypted files, so it just creates a zero-byte entry at the destination when copying the file. Fortunately, I didn’t wipe the disk with the originals, but the other day I almost did before I got distracted by something else. Yikes.

Transparent images in Internet Explorer 6

2 March 2006 – 10:50 CDT

Okay, well it was relatively easy to implement.

The problem is that Internet Explorer 6 and below do not support alpha transparency for PNG images. It only supports binary transparency for gifs, which means that if you want a semi-transparent image, or you’ve decided to use the higher-quality png format, transparency isn’t much of a real option for the IE viewers. They just see your image with a rectangular semi-transparent background of the browser’s choosing.

It might say and I just don’t see where, but this does not break support for Firefox or Opera, which I was concerned it might. A few notes, however:

– If you use this, you might have to redefine where blank.gif is located in the htc file (ie, /images/blank.gif).
– You will also have to specifiy the width and height of the image for IE, otherwise it will only show an empty space.
– This does not work for CSS background images, only on img tags.

Thanks to for leading to this solution – the most elegant one I’ve found so far.